Are you Tanning Safely?  From a very small age I have been a sun seeker. I loved just lounging around soaking up the sun’s warmth. In 1985 my family moved from Alberta to Ontario. The climate and summer was different from anything we ever experienced before. My sisters and I were at the pool everyday all summer long – without sun protection. The pools had some regulations back then which included the use of a lot of chlorine. My eyes were bloodshot every day but that first summer in Ontario, my skin displayed the darkest tan I have ever had in my life.

My outlook has changed considerably in the last few years as I started to see age spots on my face. The spots are around the outer edges of my eyes. I used to burn pretty badly around the eye and nose area at the beginning of each summer until my protective layer was established. I am grateful that there are no other signs except this area considering how much sun exposure I have had over the years.

After completing my first year as an Esthetician in college, my view on sun tanning, tanning beds and general sun exposure has changed even more. While it is important to get some Vitamin D for the body, in this three-part series you will learn how to better protect yourself and be more proactive in how you care for your skin and body. Throughout this series, I encourage you to take notice if you are tanning safely. Are you taking the necessary precautions to protect yourself?

In an article by, it states that [Vitamin D], “It affects cell death and proliferation, insulin production, and even the immune system,” says Michael F. Holick, Ph.D., M.D., director of the vitamin D, skin, and bone research laboratory at the Boston University Medical Center.

We could continue getting it from the sun however, “There’s a simple way to get your D up without baking in the sun. It’s not often that nutrition experts say it’s better to get a vitamin from a pill than from food, but D is an exception. “In this case, supplements are the easiest, cheapest, and safest way to make sure you’re covered,” says Laura Armas, M.D., assistant professor of endocrinology and a researcher in the Osteoporosis Research Center at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.

Read more at Women’s Health: //

What is UV?

UV stands for Ultraviolet Light. There is an invisible wavelength of light that cannot be seen (visible violet) called Ultraviolet. UV makes up 8% of the spectrum. Light is measured in nanometer (distance between each wavelength) which converts to about 1/100,000 the thickness of a human hair.

Further information on Ultraviolet Radiation can be found here: //

What are UVB and UVA Rays?

UVB are the burning rays which penetrates the superficial epidermis. UVB rays are longer waves that reach skin’s surface and can cause surface tanning, burning and signs of aging. UVA gives us a tan but is also responsible for aging skin. UVA rays are even longer waves that can penetrate deep into the skin’s surface, releasing free radicals and causing DNA changes that can results in skin cancers.

Further information on how UVA and UVB affects your skin: //

What is the difference between direct sunlight and tanning bed lighting?

Natural light contains both UVB and UVA light. The ratio of UVB/UVA is 1:15 – 1:100 where as the ratio on a sample tanning bed was 1:1500. The ratio range for natural light is due to various elements such as intensity of the UVB rays which can be dependent on angle of incidence (season, time of day, latitude), height of location, proportion of scattered light and the presence of snow or water. However, the tanning bed light UVB rays are filtered to a minimum in a controlled way and the UVA has been intensified.

To get that golden tan, it is the epidermis that takes part. UVB triggers the melanocytes in the stratum germinativum to begin melanin to protect the nucleus of cells. Once the process is started, the UVA oxidizes it and turns it brown. A tan is formed. So even in a tanning bed some UVB is needed to start the process. Tanning creams nourish the melanocytes accelerating the skin’s melanin production. Natural UVA in the air oxidizes it slowly. In a tanning bed, accelerators are used to rapidly speed up the production of melanin – the UVA light in the beds will rapidly oxidize it. Some products may contain dyes or artificial colourations which dye the corneum.

To learn more about the layers of the skin and how they work together: //

Stay tuned for the second part of this series where you will learn how tanning creams work and how prolong exposure could lead to cancer. 


All information used in this series was directly researched from the training received through the Esthetician program and through a website search. It is highly encouraged and recommended that you research further to better educate yourself and take the appropriate precautions for your own health and wellbeing.